In a city that features pro teams like the Montreal Canadiens, FC Montreal, Montreal Alliance, and the Montreal Alouettes and hosts world-renowned festivals like Just for Laughs, Fantasia and Osheaga the biggest event of the year is the F1 Canadian Grand Prix. Thousands of people come to town which is good news for not only those who put on the race but hotels, restaurants and bars/clubs/pubs. F1 is huge! People flood into town and millions of dollars are infused into the local economy.
Due to the pandemic the F1 race has not happened since 2019 and it was sorely missed. 2022 saw the return of this world class event. For three days, Montreal hummed with the engines of the F1 cars and the excitement of racing fans from around the world.
Unfortunately, June has been a terrible weather month and it continued through the first two days of the F1. It rained causing fans to be continuously damp, umbrellas and ponchos to be out and the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve to be slick for drivers. Rather treacherous, actually. The drivers had Friday to get used to the track again while it was dry during the two scheduled practice runs. In between them the F-1600 also practiced and the practice and qualifying sessions for the Nissan Sentra Cup and Ferrari Challenge.
Then came Friday and its grey skies, wind and rain. It rained pretty much throughout the entire day. The F1 teams did not take the scheduled practice session or pit stop practice time very seriously. Can’t say that I blamed them as there were millions of dollars of car and equipment at play and risking that the day before the big race would not have been smart.
The trying conditions proved too much for several of the 30 F-1600 drivers who started the race. There were drivers skidding out of control and others crashing into them during the race. The yellow flag was out for most of the race with only 6 laps being able to be completed. American Tyler O’Connor was able to avoid the crashes and triumph over the conditions. Connor Clubine and Jean-Christophe Trahan finished second and third.
Next up was the Formula 1 qualifying session for the race on Sunday. To lighten the mood there were a couple of surprises for race fans. The qualifying session happened between 4 and 5 p.m. and for a part of it the rain stopped. But even during the drizzling rain, the drivers pushed their cars chasing after start positions, which are vitally important in Formula 1.
It was last year’s champ, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, first time on Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Whether he was on wet or dry asphalt he was impressive. Showing that he is the best driver right now, a couple of other drivers did not fare so well. Both Alex Albon of Williams and Verstappen’s teammate, Sergio Perez hit the walls during qualification. Perez hit so hard that he was not able to continue.
A surprise came in the form of veteran driver Fernando Alonso. He posted the second fastest time. It was his best qualifying time so far in 2022. The crowd really showed their appreciation of this with loud applause. Next was Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and then Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) fourth. The two Canadian drivers, Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) and Nicholas Latifi (Williams), did not do great finishing in 17th and 18th place.
Sunday was the 70 laps or two hours of the big race. Mother Nature, who had been enemy number one the previous day, came through on race day. Temperature-wise it was almost perfect.
The early part of the race was rather uneventful, that is until lap 49 when Yuki Tsunoda hit the barrier after exiting the pit. Out came the safety car until lap 54. That led to a battle between Verstappen and Sainz for the win. Sainz was on fresher tires and kept probing for an opening to overtake the Red Bull driver. While this was exciting, Verstappen was able to keep in front and won his fifth race out of the last six. Sainz was second and seven-time champ Lewis Hamilton managed to move up from his starting position to get onto the podium.
It was a frustrating day for Alonso as he dropped from the starting position of second down into a seventh place finish. Montrealer Lance Stroll had a great day moving up from 17th to finish in the points in 10th. Besides Tsunoda, both Mick Schumacher and Sergio Perez also did not finish the race. Both suffered technical issues.
Next up in two weeks will be the British Grand Prix.